“Forget the world, and so command the world.
Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder.
Help someone’s soul heal.
Walk out of your house like a shepherd.
Stay in the spiritual fire.
Let it cook you.
Be well-baked loaf
and lord of the table.
Come and be served
to your brothers.
You have been a source of pain.
Now you`ll be the delight.
You have been an unsafe house.
Now you`ll be the One
who sees into the Invisible.
I said this, and a Voice came to my ear:
If you become this, you will be That!
and now more Silence.
A mouth is not for talking.
A mouth is for tasting this sweetness….”
– Jalaluddin Rumi | The Diwan of Shams of Tabriz
Sometimes making a difference is quick and simple, other times it can take much work. There is also assistance that can irreversibly change lives for the better. It happened to me.
The small ways I make a difference are by picking up litter that is in my path and by not littering myself in the first place (this is a huge problem in Africa), greeting, smiling and engaging with staff manning the tills at the shops and offering my help to clean up at the end of a gathering I attended, guiding people to seats at events and assisting people who are in difficulty. I often see where there is a need and fill that need.
The larger ways in which I have taken action and made a difference is by painting murals in local children’s wards in government hospitals once a year with a group of people. Gifting my time to taking photos of events for organizations. Repeatedly offering my help in any way needed (often washing up) to the organizations to which I belong.
I love this quote from Dr Daniel Amen, a psychiatrist at a TEDx event, as it sums up what it means to make a difference in someone life, “Over time I realized if he helped her, it would not only save her life, but it would help her children and even her grandchildren, as they would be shaped by someone who is happier and more stable.”
One of the times in my life that I have stepped up and taken action was when I joined a Camera Club. After attending a few meetings, the club lost its Chairperson and its Treasurer all at once and was therefore on the brink of collapse with no one making any moves to prevent it. I contacted others in the club and called a meeting, which I ended up facilitating. In the end I was elected chairperson, a the position I held for 3 years. The club is still going strong over ten years later.
There have been times when I have helped others and been rewarded beyond measure. One of those times was when I volunteered my time to a non profit organization, to assist with venue hire of their centre. I have now been a much valued employee of the organization for the last 5 years. My greatest reward has been from the time I volunteered as a photographer for a conference. Apart from the photos that I took being well received, I met an amazing group of people. I took the next step by keeping in contact and joining them for gatherings and courses they held. It has been an wonderful life changing five-year-journey which continues to this day.
I am sure you know of someone who is always complaining about how things should be done at their workplace, social meetings or organizations. They tell anyone who will listen how things should be done, but they never step up to help and take action that will make a difference.
To further explain what Taking Action is, I can find no better words than those penned by David Karchere for a brochure on Primal Spirituality.
Not only does taking action change the lives of individuals – as mentioned above – when individuals take action together, they can change the world, for example: the fall of Berlin Wall, the Arab Spring, countless Women’s marches for equality around the world, as well as the downfall of Apartheid in South Africa.
My message of Step Up & Take Action – Make A Difference is so important in our world today. If we all do this by helping others in small ways every day, we will realize our true potential as individuals and then collectively.
“Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Martin Luther King Jr